Oct 6, 2010


There are many different ways to implement a program of educating one's children. There are those who chose to implement a school-type setting in their homeschool, complete with desks, flag (for the obligatory pledge) and raised hands for questions. Others fly to the other extreme and allow their children to learn "unfettered" by the structure and requirements imposed by following a set curriculum--or even set hours for school. There are many who utilize computers in their homeschool, for many families most or even all of the instruction is done via computers. I have seen large families who have rooms where an entire wall was a bank of computers for each child to have their own computer work space.

It is for applications such as this that LanSchool is designed. LanSchool is "class management software". It is designed to allow teh teacher (in homeschools usually "mom") to oversee the work being done by their student (henceforth to be named "child") from a main teacher's computer. This allows mom to see when said child is visiting sites that they are not supposed to. It also allows mom to shut down said child's screen should they discover child on a site that they should not be visiting. Mom can use LanSchool to guide their child's research online as well as use it to "send" web pages that she has predetermined to be appropriate to the student computers--either collectively or individually. Children can ask questions of mom and receive answers on their screen. Additionally mom can blank out the student's screen and use it as a white board of sorts to teach concepts. Mom can see thumbnails of what each student is doing at any given point of time, give quizzes, redirect students. Mom can also take what one student is doing and make it visible for all students. This makes it possible for teacher mom to assess the amount of time being used by the students per subject matter to better be able to tell when the student has grasped the subject matter or when they are struggling with the topic.

At our home we do not heavily utilize computers. Our children's math is all online and obviously as they grow older, more and more research is done on the computer, but they do not use it for much more than short segments of time throughout the day. Furthermore, our computers are limited to two--the main desktop (in the master bedroom) and mom's laptop. The laptop does get pulled out when dad is doing the business books on the main desktop or another sibling is already doing math or researching something like an appropriate dinner menu for the upcoming Reformation party. For us at this time, this is not something that I would make much use of, other than the fun of blanking out someones screen or leaving notes for them. I could see that if one is utilizing computers for teaching more than one student at a time that this could be very helpful. I can also see that if mom is unable to make the rounds to check on what each child is doing at any given point in time (bedrest? nursing a baby?) that this system could be very helpful. We are contemplating becoming more computer-centric in our school in at least some subjects and this will make a convenient way to keep track of what each person is doing and the progress that they are making. There is also an application making it possible for the teacher's computer to be an iPod or iPhone--how cool is that?! The software comes with all the support that a mom should need to make this program work for their homeschool although I found the online tutorial alone to be a huge help.

The software retails for homeschool use for $99. This is for a perpetual license and three years of support and upgrades. As a member of the This Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I received the product for free in exchange for this review.

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